PHD UAE’s annual thought-leadership conference titled CHALLENGER: Rebel, Rethink and Reign drew on insights and experiences of today’s challenger brands and shared ways businesses can #livemorechallenger

Over the last decade, BrainScape has become the leading industry event in the UAE, and for its 10th anniversary, the PHD UAE took the approach of ‘standing out from the noise and stepping into the limelight’. This year’s theme, ‘Challenger: Rebel, Rethink & Reign’ brought Overthrow II to life in every facet of the conference, which saw over 400 guests attend.

Luca Allam, MD, PHD UAE, and Malcolm Devoy, Chief Strategy Officer, PHD EMEA (and co-author of Overthrow II) kicked off the day with talks on what it means to be a challenger, before launching into challenger case studies led by industry leaders such as Ronny Gottschlich, Fmr. CEO of Lidl UK, Muatasam Aulaqi, co-founder of volunteering tourism network NomuHub and Natasha Ritz, Fmr. brand lead of LUSH, Head of Comms of Parcelpoint and co-founder of ARNA.

As new forms of competition surface on a regular basis, companies need to become much more agile, something challenger brands are particularly skilled at. Since the ‘challenger brand’ concept was coined over 20 years ago, there has been a dramatic shift in the way they operate, position themselves and explore outside of their category. Instead of challenging somebody, like a competitor, they challenge something, for example, something they feel needs to change.

This new breed of challenger brands is also the subject of a new book, Overthrow II, authored by PHD and eatbigfish. Overthrow II carries interviews with some of the freshest and most interesting contemporary challenger brand examples around and provides explanations of 10 differing challenger types.

The challenger case studies presented by Ronny, Muatasam and Natasha were followed by insights and advice on how to behave and live more ‘challenger’, as a business but also as an individual, using neurobiological behaviours and techniques. Dawn Metcalfe, International executive coach, facilitator and author enabled the audience to reset their thinking, from the rigid, creature of habit to the mindset of conquers and challengers. “CEO’s need to listen up and employees need to speak up, this is the only way challenger brands can grow,” stated Dawn.

Start-ups have the upper hand when they look to become a challenger brand because they have a clean slate, a springboard from which to work when implementing a challenger positioning from scratch. But what about well-established companies who have been in the industry for 30+ years? Alessandro Lanteri, HULT International Business professor, TEDx speaker and author, continued the conversation by considering ways in which organisations can build a challenger company culture without leaving anyone behind on their ambitious journey. Alessandro’s key takeaway was to encourage a low-ego organisation, this way the environment is safe enough for employees to challenge ideas and formulates an ‘always in beta’ approach to work. An ‘always in beta’ culture allows companies to approach every day as though it was their first day with an ambitious mindset to inject creativity and meaningful difference daily. Alessandro followed this by commenting, “You need a collection of small steps and the trialling pf side project which you later bring back into the centre of a business to build a challenger brand.”

“In a world populated by endless empty noise, brands and individuals need to be more meaningful and impactful,” states Luca Allam, Managing director of PHD UAE. “Adopting a challenger mentality has never been more vital for differentiation, effectiveness and success.”

The 2019 edition of PHD BrainScape was produced in association with MMP Worldwide, the premium programmatic advertising marketplace enabling leading publishers and premium brands to better monetize their digital advertising inventory.

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Tune into LinkedIn interviews with BrainScape 2019’s speakers @PHD-